USA 2006

A week in the USA - how can I begin to capture all of what I saw in words? Just a few notes:

  • It was strange having to go through the "Aliens" line. Unfortunately, no picture-taking allowed. I gave my fingerprint, was photographed and let in.
  • JFK airport is still a zoo.
  • The cars on the highway respect neither the speed limit nor the keep-right rule. Everyone drives as they please.
  • Each exit along the highway has i gas stations, j restaurants, and k hotels. Every now and then there is also a strip mall available. The brands are the same, the food is the same, the rooms are large (but even the shabby ones cost a lot of money) and the air conditioning is cold.
  • Hotels now have "complementary Continental breakfast" - that includes many American things like waffles - made by pouring the contents of a little container of waffle mix onto a hot iron hidden behind signs noting that they are hot. Each breakfast produces more plastic garbage than the weight of food eaten.
  • Standard American coffee makes Blümchenkaffee look like a strong cup of coffee. Starbucks is better, but they put sugar in everything.
  • All food seems to be sugared and have fat added. But it is cholesterol free, yippee!
  • Fuzzy dice are very important car accessories.
  • Pickup trucks are very popular in rural Virginia.
  • The SUV seems to be dying, what with gas up to (gasp) 3$ a gallon or more in the NY area. That's 3.78 liters, that gallon, so it is about 80 US cents a liter or about 65 Euro cents. I'm happy to find gas for under 1,30 Euro a liter (or $6 a gallon). It is all a question of perspective.
  • The in course for your kids this season is sign-language lessons. I taught my youngest niece how to sing Kumbaya with sign language, they really do pick this up fast.
  • Sales tax in such large amounts scares me, I forget to calculate that in. Should just take Dollars = Euros, because Dollars + Tax is about = Euros.
  • I've forgotten how to tip.
  • Service in a German restaurant in New York is just as bad, if not worse, than in Berlin. But they sure expect their 20% tip!
  • Now there are many more flavors of soft drink: Cherry Mountain Dew, Lime Cola Light, all sorts of tea-based drinks. No real mineral water to be had for love or money, it's all natural spring water.
  • Cabs are still cheap in New York.
  • The MoMA is divine - and the Dada exhibition is out of this world! So many women suddenly who were doing Dada. Sophie Tauber-Arp, Susanne Duchamp, names of wives and lovers mentioned on the explainations. Marcel Duchamp Rotary Demisphere acutally working.
  • The guide books all say that the MoMA is closed on Wednesdays. It's closed on Tuesdays.
  • Fox "news" is atrocious.
  • It is hard to get a real paper (i.e. New York Times) in rural areas. The Post is, however, easier to read on the subway.
  • Leaving JFK you have to take off your shoes and put them through the X-Ray machine. You walk (barefoot or in socks) over a filthy piece of floor to a plastic mat. The lady sprays the bottom of the metal detector with an anti-something spray. You walk over, and try and get your shoes back on without the help of a shoehorn or a chair. The Berlin security took my bag apart, checking the laser pointer and a metal box I have. JFK didn't care, the main thing was that they saw through my shoes.

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